Then I watched the second one. Okay, maybe they would redeem themselves in the third one. I was crushed. How could Elisabeth and Will not get together? Having one night together every ten years is not quite the happy ending I had in mind. It almost ruined the movie for me. Almost.
Then I asked myself why. I started rethinking the movies and could see from the beginning how the choices of the characters unfolded the plot to what it was, whether or not I was happy with it. But life isn’t always happy.
You see, I’m one of those readers, movie-goers who does not like unhappy endings. Life has way too much crap and emotional turmoil for me to invest my time in a movie that’s going to make me feel worse. Ah, see, here’s my problem. We can set ourselves up for feeling worse, especially if we go into a movie or a book with a preconceived idea or expectations of how we think the story should go. Will and Elisabeth should live happily ever after. Remember the outcry: Harry Potter should have married Hermonie Granger. Um, when were we God? We’re not the author, we didn’t create these characters or their stories, so we probably need to give some grace and let the authors, creators, etc share their story, and we accept it as it is. But I’m getting off track.
Unhappy endings. Pirates of the Caribbean brought to my mind the Greek tragedies and Aristotle’s thoughts on people’s need for catharsis.
Catharsis (from the Greek κάθαρσις katharsis meaning “purification” or “cleansing”) refers to the purification and purgation of emotions—especially pity and fear—through art or to any extreme change in emotion that results in renewal and restoration. It is a metaphor originally used by Aristotle in the Poetics to describe the effects of tragedy on the spectator.
I’m reluctant to expose my heart only to be pierced with sorrows, but on my journey, I’m beginning to wonder if my life, my writing will be richer for it. I wonder if there’s a correlation between protecting my heart and becoming callused or revealing my heart enduring the pain, the hurt that is sure to come, and living life fuller. And writing better characters.
Perhaps I find At World’s End bittersweet, but it enriches and deepens the entire trilogy of movies. (I have not yet seen the 4th. *Gasp* I know.) It’s no longer about the fun and the adventures to be had, but about the consequences of our choices, standing up for what we believe is right, whether or not it is acceptable in other people’s eyes, whether or not it brings us happiness or not, but because it was noble, self-sacrificing, putting others first, etc.
So what say you? Do you think we need a catharsis in our lives? Do you watch movies or read books that have only happy endings?